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Top 5 Google Algorithm Ranking Factors

by Kunjal Chawhan

‘Google Algorithm’, is that just a buzzword that Digital Marketers throw to sound intelligent? Or is it something that SEOs use to manipulate or stall a client that is nagging for instant results?

Don’t worry, in this post your questions will be answered with utmost clarity. We are not gonna go with cliche Google Ranking Factors that even a beginner knows about.

In this post, we will go over Google Algorithm Ranking Factors that really matter and are shaking up the SEO industry right now.

Top 5 Google Algorithm Ranking Factors

1. E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness & Trustworthiness)

SEO is a type of digital marketing that gets algorithm updates almost every year to fight the spammers preventing them from exploiting the pool of potential.

E-A-T took the industry by surprise (or shall I call it shock) last year 2019. E-A-T update aimed towards content & it majorly affected YMYL & Medical websites.

And just like that, all the medical niche & YMYL sites saw a major drop in rankings and organic traffic. 

Google now ranks medical content in search results if the content is authored by a doctor or a medical practitioner.

Google understands that medical content is delicate and how false knowledge can have repercussions on the consumer of such content.

Same goes with the wealth niche sites, a wrong financial advice can make a person go bankrupt.

So for now, if you want to rank medical content then implement E-A-T. Articles should be authored by doctors, add reference links to relevant sources (use Google Scholar to find relevant sources), your about us page can be a great place to implement E-A-T.

Has E-A-T affected other niches? You bet they have.

But certainly not to the extent of medical sites.

How to rank higher in the world where E-A-T exists?

Decode the acronym, it says Expertise, Authoritativeness & Trustworthiness.

As an author of a blog do you have those attributes? 

No? Then now seems like the right time to cultivate these attributes.

Guest blogging is a good place to begin. Contribute your content to authority sites and make damn sure that they let you add your author bio; your author bio being found on more authority sites in your niche is the go to way for proclaiming E-A-T.

Leverage personal branding for the same. Use your name as an anchor text at several places.

Ex: “John Smith”, “John Smith is an experienced blogger”, “Check out this resource by John Smith”

2. BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) Update

The BERT model by Google stems from the NLP (natural language processing) program. BERT simply aims to understand the human language the way we use it.

Full transparency BERT always existed, at least ever since the RankBrain algorithm was introduced. It’s just that in 2019 it came in full throttle.

And websites were indeed affected by this update. Especially the websites using content created by robots or websites focusing heavily on keyword research tools to stuff content.

If you go by the rule book of keyword research then you will pick keywords/keyphrases having high search volume considering that as a general rule of thumb. But that needs to stop now.

It’s important to write like the way a human talks to a human. Do we insert high search volume keyphrases while talking to anybody?

It would be weird if we do

Google recognized that humans were searching keyphrases in a humanly manner expecting Google to answer their queries no matter how specific or slangish they may be.

You can recognize such queries as you go to Google trends and examine a topic. That’s what made Google make this switch.

Incorporating natural language in your copy ensures that your web page ranks for natural query because page would be the next best thing. Google’s semantics have gotten that good at recognition & results.

You search a query like “how to get out of bed when you don’t feel like” on Google and you will be amazed at how narrow & specific the results will be.

4-5 years ago that wasn’t the stance. 

3. Topical Authority

Want to rank high difficulty content but everyone talks only about finding & ranking low difficulty content? We have all been there.

Could high difficulty topics be ranked? Yes, but it probably won’t be easy.

Here is what can help.

If it is a high difficulty topic that you want to rank, content like huge guides then topical authority is the nail that you have hit.

Google looks for it & it is already a ranking factor.

Topical Authority simply means building authority on and across the topic that you’re trying to rank.

How do you do that?

By building topic clusters across the cornerstone content. If you want to rank “SEO Guide” (which will be a pillar content) then it’s important that you create topical authority for that by building clusters like SEO Checklists, Technical SEO guide, & everything on and around SEO.

You will add these as internal links to the guide by internal linking the inner pages, as Google crawls your pillar content it will see that you have to supplement resources within your site. That means users don’t have to go to someplace else their intent is being satisfied on your website.

You don’t have to take my word for it, just Google “seo guide” Search Engine Journal’s SEO Guide ranks #4. As you click that resource what you will find would not be a guide or an article but rather a map.

The map contains the location of every SEO resource you want to learn clicking those links will redirect you to those respective pages within the site. 

And get this, the guide page has only 468 words which appears far too less for a pillar content.

The reason Search Engine Journal managed to rank is because of topical authority.

4. Page Speed

Page Speed has been a ranking factor for some while, but it’s gonna matter more in 2021.

Less than a month ago, Google has introduced core web vitals and said that it will be the ranking factor starting 2021.

What are core web vitals metric?

  • LCP (Largest Contentful Paint)
  • Interactivity
  • CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift)

Getting an A score on GTMetrix isn’t that difficult but getting a 100/100 score on Pagespeed Insights can be difficult.

But this isn’t something that we can shy away from anymore. Before 2021 everyone has to get it together.

Google essentially wants that as a visitor clicks your website from search results, you website should load instantly, all it’s elements should load quickly. If it fails to do so, then your website is considered to be giving poor user experience.

What are some things you can do?

Get a good hosting, I mean really good. It’s uptime should be great, server response time should be quick.

Getting a good hosting should solve half of your problems.

Secondly, get the fastest theme you can get your hands on. It’s very important. Optimize website headers to async & defer JavaScript & CSS.

5. Content Freshness

It’s been no wonder that Google likes fresh content.

With fresh content I don’t only mean updating the title tags apending the present year. Google is not that naive.

Google looks for content that is fresh in terms of value that it aims to add. The knowledge has to be timely and relevant. SEO Content Writing is an iterative process, one way to get it right is by updating the content & staying ahead of the game.

If you can maintain your position just by updating content then why not?

Let’s say 2 years ago you made a list of websites. Today, in 2020 most of those websites appear to have been shut, which means your content is not going to help users at all. When users arrive at your website from Google they will be disappointed because as they click your result they will be taken to a closed website page, that’s frustrating.

This is just one example, fresh content has many aspects, it can also mean advice or opinion that is redundant.

Pillar content like “SEO Guide” from a website that maintains it’s ranking over the years manages to do so because of updating the content & making it appear fresh always.

You will also come across guides that will write on top “always updating guide” to convince readers that they will find content that is relevant that can drastically reduce the bounce rate.

So, there it is top Google Ranking factors you need in 2020 & beyond to rank higher. Always remember the key to ranking higher often turns out to be in what you can first fix in your own website before you go on a backlink hunting spree. Get all the signals right and you are good for ranking well on Google.


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Lisa Sicard July 17, 2020 - 9:52 am

Hi Kunjal, Great tips – I’m working on an aritcle that I’ll be linking to this one today. I knew page speed was a big factor but didn’t realize it would become more of one going into the future. I’m always advising clients to update their content but it’s not easy to convince them.
It is something I try to do regularly on my blog. We have to set aside time for those updates but they are important. It really helped me in the SERPS this past year. I redid over 200 posts earlier this year.
Thanks for the tips and have a great weekend ahead.

Kunjal Chawhan July 17, 2020 - 10:03 am

Thanks Lisa,

I had contributed this article here, Vishwajeet was kind enough to let me contribute

I’m glad that you liked this piece.

And yes, explaining clients things like improvising page speed can be difficult they would open the website at their system and it will open fast because the site is registered in their cache.

But moving forward this will play a pivotal role, it is very important for all of us to optimize for core web vitals ASAP

Have a great weekend

Rijhu Sinha October 12, 2020 - 12:20 pm

Hello Kunjal,

Awesome article Thanks Kunjal for sharing all these useful tips with us.

Yes completely agree with you all these E-A-T, BERT, Topical Authority, Page Speed and Content Freshness are very important google ranking factors especially the Page Speed and Of course the Content Freshness.

Yes I too believe if you can maintain your position by just updating fresh and valuable content then why not we should go for that as it is the one of the easiest factor if you have a sound knowledge. Page Speed too matters a lot when it comes to google ranking factors.

Very informative article. Keep sharing.


Parag Pallav Talks July 22, 2021 - 10:06 pm

Hello Kunjal.
I have been into your content since last week. I find your content quite helpful and engaging. I also found few useful things for my blog which are helpful.


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